Modern Classic SLRs Series :
Nikon Interchangeable Prisms for F2 Series bodies - Part II

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If you buy a standard Nikon F2 camera, this finder will come with it. But why would Nikon still producing a non-metered prism ? Oh, just to remind you, many photographers during those days would still believe handheld meter works better than built-in meter. Next, for studio photographers who most of the time working with flash units, a metered finder is often regarded too bulky and costly; anyway, Nikon offered the prism as an accessory to satisfy all levels of requirements and making the F2 the widest selection of choices in terms of options for viewfinder - even to the bare basic requirement.

<<<< ---- Once upon a time... Dr Leong. Copyright © 2000. CYLeow ® Photo Editor of the Star newspaper. Hosted by: Malaysian Internet Resources

".... DE-1 Eyelevel Prism - No frills. No relaxed eyepoint (yes, left-eyed glasses wearers, scratch your right lens on the rewind lever like me); no hotshoe on top. The DE-1 offers an exciting eyepiece LED, though -- useful for those Nikon flashes that connect to the hotshoe surrounding the rewind knob and light this ready light (i.e. SB-2, -6, -7E and SC-4). Who wants it? Imagine looking through the viewfinder and seeing your picture floating on top of an non-distracting black background: no flashing lights, no exposure readouts, no focus confirmation, no dancing needles, nothing at all to keep you from concentrating on getting the composition that you want. Yes, it forces you to use a more deliberate style and actually consider what your picture, but it is wonderfully simple and non-intrusive. Nikon F2's that come with the eyelevel prism, despite being the cheapest to buy when new, are now among the more expensive (although they haven't yet approached some obscene F2AS prices I've seen lately). This is partly due to the rate of failure of the metering mechanisms (which often work great as finders, still, although with the added distraction of having the somnolent meter needle and some exposure information). If you are buying a prism finder, remember that the vast majority were sold to photojournalists, who used handheld meters, and so may not be in great cosmetic condition: you want to check that there is no physical damage to the prism inside, i.e. desilvering, prism separation, etc.

The Nikon F2 with an eyelevel prism is one of the most crisply designed, cleanly styled cameras ever made. It is at once distinctive and elegant. I said it about the F and it applies just as much to the F2; the main differences between the two prisms is merely cosmetic -- where the F's eyelevel prism comes back in three distinct planes, with two crisp edges running from the peak of the prism to its back, the DE-1 is smoothly rounded in back. The overall effect is similar to that applied to the F2 when changing from the F -- where sharp creases once ruled, the F2 has been blended and rounded. It is overall 55.9 x 36.1 x 40mm..... " - Michael Liu -

in 1976, Nikon introduced a Titanium version of the Nikon F2 which comes with a DE-1 finder with Titanium casing. The "F2/T" or a rarer "F2 Titan" operates and functions exactly like a Nikon f2 basic model except its top, bottom cover, finder, lens mount section and even the film back was made of Titanium. Hence, some referred the DE-1 in titanium as "DE-1/T " finder. The F2 High Speed Motor Drive Camera which introduced two years in 1978 was also based on the original F2T.

DW -1 Waist Level Finder

A compact and handy finder for copying or out-and-about use when a right angle or low-level view is needed. The finder's deeply shielded viewing hood ensures that the image on the focusing screen stays bright and clear at all times. The idea was believed to be imitating the idea of medium format camera such the Hasselblad or the twin reflex bodies of Rolleiflex which have such commanding positions on the market prior to the popularity of 35mm SLR format.

The waist level finder fits on any F2 body to allow direct viewing of focusing screen. A flip-up magnifier is built-in and gives a 5X magnified view of the image on the focusing screen. If you have some experience working with a medium format camera, one of the main drawback for such design is its projected image inside is reversed left to right but NOT top-to-bottom. The four sided metal hood will spring up when the catch is slides to release. The flip-up 5x power magnifier is released by another catch inside. The magnifier in this case, helps to provide pin point precise focusing of images projected through the lens on the focusing screen.

This viewfinder remains the most economical among all interchangeable finder and provide such convenient working comfort in special situations such as working the camera at ground level or at extended height of copy stand. The magnifier and the-sided folding hoods can be unfolded in and making the F2 when mounted with one looks like a odd-looked pancake unit...

"...DW-1 Waist level Finder - These came in only the 4-sided version. It is a conventional waist-level finder, with a lid that flips open to view the screen and a 3x magnifier (which may be moved aside) to allow for better focussing. They are the cheapest and probably least capable of the F2's viewfinders, probably because whenever most people need a waist-level finder (WLF), they employ the poor man's (sorry, could just as easily be poor woman's) trick: remove the finder currently in place and voila! your own WLF, although without the hood (helps screen contrast on bright days) or magnifier. Either way, whether you use the Nikon DW-1 or "make your own", the image is laterally reversed and erect (i.e. as you view the world except that left and right are swapped -- it has to do with the mirror's position relative to the lens -- the lens reverses and inverts the image, and the mirror corrects the inversion, but you need a roof prism to correct the lateral reverse-ness). Thanks to Randy Holst for education on the machinations of light in a camera and through a finder...." - Michael Liu -

DW-2 6X Focusing Finder

Provides high-magnification, full frame coverage indispensable for use in scientific, close-up or copy photography. The DW-2 itself has an optical system almost as complex as that of a camera lens to enable it to produce a clear, sharp, undistorted view of the entire image on the focusing screen at a full 6X magnification. The high magnification of the 6X finder makes it ideal for use with the parallax focusing technique and, as the finder is fitted with a -5 to +3 diopter adjustment for individual eyesight correction via a knurled ring at the top of the finder barrel, this is easily achieved in practice.

As with the Waist Level finder, projected image is erect but laterally reversed (reversed left to right but NOT top-to-bottom), a characteristic shared by all non-pentaprism viewfinders. When removed, this viewfinder can also act as a handy high quality magnifier for checking slides or negatives. ".... DW-2 6x Magnifying Finder - Although this finder allows you to view the entire frame without moving your eye and provides and reversed but erect image (just as the regular waist level finder), it is really best suited for precision work (i.e. macrophotography, aerial shots with the type M screen, perhaps some wide-angle landscape work, although most landscapes are taken with panoramic medium format beasts, like the Fuji GX617, or with monorails). A nice bonus is the built-in diopter correction, which can be adjusted from -5 to +3. It is overall 52.1 x 65.1 x 40mm....." - Michael Liu -

DA-1 Action/Sports Finder Although widely known under its title of "Action Finder," the name of this Nikon innovation in reflex viewfinders could almost be a misnomer, judging by the many applications it finds in branches of photography that have little or nothing to do with action.

What it does, in fact, is provide the photographer with a bright, clear view of the entire focusing screen even when the eye is displaced from behind and to one side of the finder's extra large eyepiece.

<<< --- Credit: Picture at left (black chrome) was sent to me by a surfer who downloaded the image from Ebay - I believed it was from Pacific Camera, US.

Action Finder was originally designed for use in aerial photography, it was quickly adopted by sports, underwater and press photographers. Others who had to wear goggles when working also adopted the Action Finder. Present- day users in this category include ski photographers, photographers in hazardous environments and underwater photographers who use their F2's in custom-built camera housings.

The viewfinder fits any Nikon F2 body and allows you to view the entire focusing screen with your eye as much as 2.5" away from the eyepiece ! The eyepiece is rectangular, 32 by 26mm. Unlike the Waist Level or the 6X Magnification Finder, it displays a correct without any reversal which is almost an absolute essential for tracking subject in motion. Photographers in science, industry and copy labs also should appreciate convenience provided by Action Finder for the way it eliminates the eyestrain often resulting from squinting into conventional viewfinders for prolonged periods of time. As with many other Nikon finders in various generations of professional Nikon F-series models, it is also the most expensive among all standard non-metered interchangeable finders.

"...This is basically an updated Action Prism from the F, the basic concept of which was so sound that it spawned a couple of copies (the notably innovative Canon Speedfinder and the Pentax FK-1 LX finder) and has produced its own progeny (DA-1 for F2, DA-2 for F3, DA-20 for F4, and now DA-30 for the F5, to say nothing of the Nikonos RS, which is basically a N4004 [F401] with an action prism and a massively sealed casing) in the Nikon line. The main difference between the DA-1 and its father (more like brother, I guess) the Action Finder is the built-in nameplate of the DA-1; if you remove the "Nikon" plate from the F, you can mount the DA-1 (or indeed, any other viewfinder listed on this page) without loss of function. The only real exceptions are the DP-x metering prisms, as they all take power from the F2 body, while the Photomic prisms for the F have battery compartments built-in.

It provides less magnification (0.6x versus 0.8x) than the standard finders, but allows the user to hold the camera up to about an inch and a half (40mm) from the eyepiece and still view the entire screen. So who needs one? They are extremely popular for use in underwater housings, when you have to deal with the additional bulk of the mask and housing between you and your camera. It provides an upright, unreversed view: think of it as a super-HP finder, and you won't be far off. I have heard that they are occasionally difficult to view in bright (side) light, as the image may be washed out without your head to act as a shade for the eyepiece. Some numbers for you gear heads out there: it is overall 71.6 x 55.6 x 40mm. The entire field is visible when the eye is up to 60mm behind (axially) the eyepiece; when the eye is 20mm behind, you may move up to 16mm vertically and 24mm horizontally and still see the entire field. ...:" - Michael Liu -

A major drawback for this finder design is again lack of metering information which makes the Action Finder designed for later Nikon F3, F4 and F5 a better options for such highly demanding applications as the metering cell has been moved from prism housing to the respective camera body(ies) and thus TTL metering is retained regardless of change of finders (F4 and F5 has two locations to host the metering cell, one at the base of the mirror box while another is at the finder for different metering functions), focusing screens or any physical attachments to the camera body. In fact, Nikon seen such flaws present in the F2 as the main designing objective for the later Nikon F3.

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Credit: Chuck Hester, US for his patience, encouragement and help to setup the various content in this site; Robert Johnson for some of his original images on the F2H-MD appeared in this site; my ex-staff, KiaSu for his superb 3-D logo appeared in this Nikon F2 site; Marc Vorgers from Holland who generously provide me with some of his images of F2AS; MCLau®, who has so much time with me to re-edit the content in this site and not to mention buying a Nikon Coolpix 990 just for this site. Keat Photo, Kuala Lumpur for providing their Nikon F2A to take some images for this site; again, Mr Edward Ngoh the great camera collector who provides us his collection of F2AS with MD-2; for their images on the Speed Magny film backs; Sean Cranor for his image on Nikon F2 25th Anniversary Model; Ted Wengelaar®, Holland for his continuous flow of input on some of the early Nikon bodies; CYLeow ® , photo editor of the Star newspaper, Malaysia for some of his images used in this site. Ms Rissa Chan, Sales manager from Shriro Malaysia who has helped to provide some of the very useful input. HiuraShinsaku®, Nikomat ML, Japan for some of his images on various F2 models; my staff, Wati, Maisa, Mai and my nephew, EEWyn®, who volunteered and helping me did so many of the film scanning works. Contributing photographers or resellers: Jen Siow, Foo KokKin, Arthur Teng, Mark Fallander, John Ishii, Ed Hassel, YoonKi Kim, Jean-Louis, M.Dugentas (Dell, Mr "Arsenall" and a few images mailed in from surfers with no appropriate reference to their origin. Dedicated to KU Yeo, just to express our mutual regrets over the outcome of a recent corporate event. Made with a PowerMac, broadcast with a Redhat Linux powered server.

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